Hot Dog Stand: Survival Math Skills

The #1 Lost Gem of Educational Software: Hot Dog Stand: Survival Math Skills.


  1. The #1 Lost Gem of Educational Software: Hot Dog Stand: Survival Math Skills.
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What is it that makes Hot Dog Stand so unique? It’s an often requested “lost” educational game for the Macintosh computer. There are lost shareware games, obscure betas and whatnot floating around, but somehow Hot Dog Stand is still fondly remembered enough to stick in the minds of adult millenials today. Many people were introduced to educational programming in schools, which has created a strange interest in the genre years later. These programs and games were only accessible to teachers via special educational order forms and bundles, and often were not sold at retail level.

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When I was a child, I often tried to find rooms to hide in so I wouldn’t have to go outside at recess. It wasn’t that I didn’t like going outside, but as I got older and moved away from games, playground equipment, and as I felt socially awkward around people, hiding became a high-ranking choice for me. Our school system had this rule about not letting students into the library on recess or lunch breaks. This was strange to me, as this was a school and I went to school to learn. I would have preferred to spend my time learning in peace on my own terms then go outside and feel miserable.

I saw these in a factory's bathroom, but have no idea what they are. Anyone  know? - Imgur

Anyway, on one of my many adventures hiding from a pack of vicious girls who wanted to dunk me in the sink, I ducked into one of the only “door” rooms in my school. This was a storage room/office for my favorite teacher, Mrs. Darke, who taught my enrichment classes. (Yeah, I was one of those kids, hence why I’m hiding every recess.) In this room, most older books and educational media would be kept. There was also one old Macintosh computer, which felt like my personal Mac, as I often hid in this room. Installed on this Mac were a few games, and one of them was Hot Dog Stand: Survival Math Skills.

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Hot Dog Stand stands out to me, as I was already addicted to management style simulator games. There’s something appealing to me about that genre, and it was games like this one and Lemonade Stand by MECC that really moved me when I was a young child. Thankfully, you can teach young children mathematics using the premise of “managing a shop” and turn numbers into physical things like money to help grasp why mathematics is important.

It is a simple premise. You are managing a hot dog stand at a baseball park and you have to manage things like inventory, sales, profit, and marketing. But it has some amusing little animation and funny attempts at humor to make it endearing, and it held my attention. The first time I played, I charged $20 a hot dog and people were complaining of a “Highway Robery”. I became concerned and kept searching for a phone option button in the game to call the cops, since I felt someone was robbing the road. I was just a kid at the time, please forgive me.

These games often didn’t come in boxes, but in binders that would include teaching programs/guides. And because of that, often these games would be thrown out to make room for new teaching programs and software as computer technology moved on. It wasn’t like you could walk into Radio Shack and ask for Hot Dog Stand. You had to go to school, and your local funding might or might not provide such amenities. Sometimes, you’d get teachers who would “swap” pirated program disks around with other educators or nerds like me, who’d always make a backup of games to stash on other computers if that one computer was “taken”.

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I personally would love to revisit this crazy little educational game as I have many great memories mastering it. However, the game remains lost to time…

… or is it?

Let’s discuss Sunburst Technology Cooperation, which started in 1972 under the name of Sunburst Communications Inc. In those days, Sunburst was located in New York, well known for developing children’s educational software and best known for their Type to Learn series. As mentioned earlier, Sunburst primarily sold only to schools.

In 1982, Sunburst released Survival Math, a series of educational math games for the Apple II, Atari 8-Bit, BBC Micro, C64, and the TRS-80. It was a package that looked like The Market Place, a MECC’s release of math games that held a hidden version of Lemonade Stand that was a bit more advanced from the stand alone Lemonade Stand issued a few years before. Yes, there is a trend here where developers of educational software would remake or repurposed older games or test new ideas to be part of a program series on one disk. This was common, as teachers and schools often go for the bundles to get the most program for their money.

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Hidden in plain sight on Survival Math is the first early envision of Hot Dog Stand.

That is correct. The game isn’t totally lost yet. It’s a little far-fetched because the two games have differences, and the black and white Mac version is famous for being the Mac version. However, they are identical games and the older 1982 edition is more readily available since it was dumped in its entirety. Hot Dog Stand is one of four math games you can play on this disk, where the three others are Foreman’s Assistant, Smart Shopper, and Travel Agent Contest.

The biggest difference between this version of Hot Dog Stand and the stand alone Mac version is that instead of a baseball field, you are selling hot dogs at a Foot Ball field and have 10 games to make over $200.

hot dog stand

Hot Dog Stand

Hot Dogs and Football.

hot dog stand

This is how you play

Your buns go bad, baby.

Hot Dog Stand

Day One

$200 in 1982 was all you needed to start a business.

hot dog stand

Here comes the Delivery!

Best part was seeing this truck.

I was joyful when I saw that the delivery truck animation was the same to the Mac version.

And I am sure other people had fun with this game, as Sunburst later made two sequels: Hot Dog Stand: The Works and Hot Dog Stand: Top Dog. People like hot dogs. If you want to play Hot Dog Stand, I would say go for the Survival Math release. As for the elusive Mac stand alone game, well…

... there seems to be a few copies located…?

For years, a strange list of universities has been circulated where they have listed that they still have copies of this game in their system. When it comes to educational games and software, it’s only logical to search out schools and university libraries and refences to find such treasures. Again, these lists of schools have been posted since 2003, but it’s unknown if anyone worked up the nerve to call or inquire. That could change, and it all depends if enough people care enough to go looking for a silly Hot Dog stand game.

Hot Dog Stand: Is it worth it?

It’s up to you. I mean, I care enough to spend a few hours here and there checking. But that’s me in my rose tinted glasses. But maybe there’s other people out there who, like me, played these old educational games when they were kids and have that desire to play them again. It’s important to look back at how we used computers, programming, and software to educate in those early days not just out of preservation, but also to learn how far we have come…

But maybe if you start looking, we will play it again.

Looking to play a super dank old style game? Have you downloaded Super Dank Birb yet? You should, as I did the graphics for it.

One thought on “The #1 Lost Gem of Educational Software: Hot Dog Stand: Survival Math Skills.

  1. Very interesting article. I’m flattered since I programmed the Macintosh version of Hot Dog stand (you can see my name on the graphics you posted). Old Macs… glad you enjoyed it

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